My latest in the Times of Israel
In the way of background to this article, there was an agreement between the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency, representing Diaspora Jewry, that an area of the Western Wall (Kotel) would be set aside for egalitarian prayer. It was years in the making. The Israeli government just reneged on that agreement. Diaspora Jewry is not happy to say the least.
The Kotel is the holiest place in the world where Jews are allowed to pray. The holiest site itself, is the Temple Mount, but it is controlled by the Moslem Waqf . They do not allow anyone to pray there except Moslems. The Israel government allows this in order to maintain the status quo of Jerusalem.
Where to begin? Is it the abject disrespect towards diaspora Jewry? Is it the disrespect given to the enfranchisement of women? Is it the disrespect given to other branches of Judaism? Is it a holier-than-thou attitude that only their particular religious version of Judaism is the legitimate version? Is it the abject spinelessness of the Prime Minister that is at play?
Whatever your take on the Kotel controversy, here is the reality. The government of Israel in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, and with other branches of Judaism, had hammered out an agreement that would have created an egalitarian prayer area at the Kotel, and now the government has reneged. It is merely an indication that Jewish pluralism in Israel is a myth and a lie when it comes to Israeli politics. It is a myth that Israel actually cares what Diaspora Jewry thinks about Judaism. It is a myth that the Israeli government cares that the majority of Diaspora Jews are not Orthodox, and that they respect our version of Judaism, that they will work to have Reform and Conservative conversions respected in Israel. Don’t be so touchy they tell us.
It is Israeli politics we are told. Bibi would lose his government if the Haredim backed out and they made this an issue. Just move on we are told. You in the diaspora don’t get how Israeli politics works. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business as usual. Besides why do you the unobservant care so much about the Kotel, when you Reform and liberal Jews don’t even support a unified Jerusalem? You should have fought harder and gotten more Israelis on our side for this issue if it was so important to you.
Why are we in the Diaspora so upset over this balagan? The answer is simple. It’s because, in truth, the Prime Minister of Israel just told Diaspora Jewry to go to hell.
Read the rest here.